Glasnevin Bridge Club


Simple Overcall
At the one level, this promises a good quality, 5+ card suit and about 7-15 (or as high as 17 if two suited) points. With 16+ one suited hand, double first and then bid your suit on the next round. Part of the aim is to be disruptive so a 1S overcall over a 1C opening is particularly appealing. The more disruptive the overcall, the more you can compromise on points requirement, especially at favorable vulnerability. The same applies in the balancing position.
A two level overcall is quite different. You
should have a high quality 6+ card suit (a near solid 5 card suit is ok) and you must have opening points. This is because you are far more likely to be doubled for penalties.
  • Normally pass or raise. This system uses a pre-emptive response style so advancer should raise partner’s overcall to the level of the fit (minus 1 if vulnerable). So if partner overcalls 1S and you have 4 spades and are non-vulnerable, immediately raise to 3S i.e. the number of cards known to be held by the partnership less 6. Points don’t come into it - you might have a Yarborough. Overcaller will generally pass but may up the pre-empt holding extra length. The raise must be immediate, otherwise its pre-emptive advantages are compromised.
  • A Change of suit response is rare and in this system, forcing. Advancer must have a suit that he thinks is a better option but must also be tolerant of partner raising his own suit.
  • A NT response is also rare and generally unwelcome. To contemplate it, you must have opening points. Partner will tend to pass unless he has a 6 card suit.
  • An Unassuming Cue Bid is used to tell partner you have support (3+) and you are strong enough for limit raise or better opposite a weakish partner. Partner must bid and is expected to clarify his holding. Note that all direct raises and jump raises will be assumed to be pre-emptive so if you wish to make a constructive raise, you must go via the cue bid.
  • A Fit Jump e.g. 1H-1S-2H-4C shows support (3+) and a high quality 5+ holding in the bid suit. Total HCP strength may not be great but your 5 card suit must be excellent. Armed with this knowledge, partner should be well placed to call the contract.

Weak Jump Overcalls
In keeping with the general style of this system, these are weak. They show a Weak 2 opening type hand i.e. 6 cards+ and good quality. How good depends on seat and vulnerability so in first seat, vulnerable it needs to be excellent where as in third seat, non-vulnerable a respectable suit quality will suffice. Note that this bid denies any value outside the suit in question so partner will assume you have no outside entries.
These are exactly the same as responses to a weak 2 opening in a conventional system. With support you can pass, up the pre-empt to the 3 level or bid game - either genuinely or pre-emptively - nobody knows which but you! A change of suit is forcing. With genuine game ambition, you may bid 2NT which initiates an Ogust response scheme as follows;
  • 3C - Minimum and a poor suit
  • 3D - Maximum (8+) and a poor suit
  • 3H - Minimum and a good suit (2-3 top honors)
  • 3S - Maximum and a good suit
  • 3NT - Solid
N.B. A jump overcall in the balancing position is never weak and promises 15+ HCPs.

Pre-Emptive Overcalls

These show a hand which would be opened at the 3 level and responses are analogous to those after a pre-emptive opening.

2-Suited Overcalls
There are two such overcalls used in this system. These are in addition to a double after the enemy have bid two suits, which shows opening points and 4+ in both unbid suits.

Michaels Cue Bid
This is an immediate overcall of their suit e.g. 1H-2H or such a call in the balancing position e.g. 1H-pass-pass-2H. It shows two 5 card suits. Over a minor, it shows both majors. Over a major it shows the other major and one of the minors. The suits must be of good quality i.e. each biddable as a simple overcall. This implies about 8-12 HCP. With a stronger hand, it is generally better to bid the two five card suits naturally and constructively. However, with a powerhouse, one can start with a Michaels cue-bid and then bid on. Partner should get the message that your original bid was not the usual, essentially pre-emptive, type of Michaels but rather the powerhouse type.
Assuming the normal Michaels type hand, if both majors are being shown, partner simply shows preference (or jump preference if he happens to be strong). If the bid is showing a known major and an unknown minor, partner will often do best to raise the major with tolerance rather than asking for the minor and finding himself misfit and a level higher! However, if partner wishes to know the identity of the minor, the asking bid is 2NT.

Note that a Michaels cue bid is extremely descriptive so only use it if you think your side will declare. If you end up defending having used this bid, you have given away an enormous amount of information about your distribution. As usual with these attractive gadgets, the moral is don’t use them just because you can. Only do so when you think it is preferable to any other available bid - including pass!

Unusual NT
This is an immediate overcall of 2NT showing 5-5 in the two lowest unbid suit. Natural 2NT overcalls are rare and used only in the balancing position or over weak 2 openings. Any other 2NT overcalls are “unusual”. Everything in the section on Michaels applies here except that both suits are always know. The system of responses to NT is on after natural 2NT overcalls but is obviously off after an unusual 2NT.

N.B. 1H-pass-pass-2H is Michaels but 1H-pass-pass-2NT is not unusual but rather is a natural overcall (19+) in the balancing position.

1NT Overcall
This shows a balanced or near balanced (5422) 15-18 HCP hand with a stopper in their suit. With 19+, double first and then bid NT. System is on in both cases.

Natural 2NT Overcalls
In the balancing position, this shows a 19+, balanced or near balanced hand and a stopper. It is a rare bid so watch out for it. System is on. The other situation where a 2NT overcall is natural is over their weak 2 opening. In this case, it shows a hand which would have overcalled 1NT over a 1 level opening. System is on.

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